After playing around and creating a delicious Orange Mocktail, I wanted to come up with a mini-dessert recipe that would pair nicely.
This Orange Cupcake with Italian Meringue is sophisticated, yet surprisingly easy.
For this recipe, you can easily substitute the orange cupcake with an orange muffin recipe.
Orange is a common flavour in Italian baking, so I naturally looked to other Italian flavours and techniques to round out the cupcake. My favourite Easter treat is Italian Orange Bread with a sweet milk glaze, which is a perfect balance of sweet and savoury, so I thought a light Italian meringue would be a delicate topping.
Because a meringue is so light, you can get those mile-high swirls out of it, but for me, the point of choosing a meringue over other frostings is for just a hint of sweetness that doesn’t overpower the rest of the cupcake.
Now, a meringue can be a bit tricky, but proceed confidently and follow my directions and you should end up with a airy batch of frosting. If you miss something in the directions, you can always just swirl some whipped cream on top!
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup salted butter softened
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1 1/2 Tablespoons orange zest
- 2 large eggs
- 3/4 cup heavy cream if you want a lighter texture use half and half
- 1/4 cup fresh orange juice
- 1 1/2 tsp orange extract optional
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 1/4 cups sugar
- 1/3 cup water
- 6 large egg whites room temperature
- 3/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
- 2 1/4 cups unsalted butter room temperature
Preheat oven to 350 degrees and prepare a muffin pan with 12 cupcake liners.
In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt, set aside.
In a second bowl, blend together butter, granulated sugar and orange zest until light and fluffy, about 3-4 minutes. Add in eggs, one at a time. Set aside.
In a small bowl, stir together the cream, orange juice, orange extract and vanilla extract.
Slowly add half of the flour mixture to the butter-sugar batter, blend, then add half of the cream mixture, blend, and repeat.
Portion out the batter into cupcake liners.
Bake cupcakes 22-25 minutes, until an inserted toothpick comes out clean.
Cool completely before frosting.
FOR THE MERINGUE:
Place 1 cup of sugar and water in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Simmer gently.
Meanwhile, place egg whites in a mixing bowl and whip on low speed until light and frothy. Add cream of tartar and turn speed to medium-high. When soft peaks begin to form, slowly add in 1/4 cup of sugar. Whip until stiff, glossy peaks form.
Bring the sugar/water mixture to a rapid boil and cook until it reaches 248˚ to 250˚ F on a candy thermometer.
With the mixer running, pour syrup in a thin, steady stream directly into the meringue. Whip meringue until cool to the touch, 5-8 minutes.
With the mixer running, add butter a couple tablespoons at a time. The meringue is done when it is the consistency of whipped cream.
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